Archive for March 19th, 2012

19th March
written by amber

Yard Sale

We came to live in this city because we heard such great things about it – the well-funded and vibrant cultural scene, the public services such as low cost transit, good schools, well-maintained roads, lots of recreational opportunities. Oh, we had heard other things too – that the city had sold off some of its outer suburban land to factories, but that didn’t bother us at all. We assumed it meant that the city was concentrating on the heart of the city, and we wanted to live in the heart.

We found a very nice home in an older neighbourhood. We loved our neighbours and the kids loved their school. And everything about the city was as we’d anticipated. For about a year, we were very happy here.

In retrospect, even in that first year, there were things we should have noticed. The kids’ school was old and getting rundown, and enrollment was falling as our area was mostly inhabited by older people who didn’t have school age children. The city sold the school and so the kids had to go to another one that was further away, but free bussing was provided and all their friends were at the same new school, so we weren’t too bothered. Even when an after-hours club started up in the old school, no one complained much because the city was so good about enforcing their closing hours and policing in the blocks around the club.

This year our local library was sold, and the promised book-mobile turns out to be run by a private operator who charges three times as much to borrow a book as the library did. Of course, we can still go downtown to the remaining public library, but transit has become much more expensive since it was privatized and, anyhow, the library has drastically trimmed its holdings, concentrating more on e-books and leasing out half of its shelving space to a legal office for their files.

Pieces began to appear in the newspaper about the municipal government’s ‘yard sale’ mentality, but this was really brought home to us when the letter came about the sheep. An organization of urban shepherds had approached the city with a proposal and so the city had leased the grass on the boulevards to them. Any home owners willing to allow the sheep to graze on their lawns would receive a tax cut. It wasn’t a large tax cut, but we figured it would be impossible to keep the sheep off our grass anyway, so we took it.

And now this – another letter, stating that every home containing more than one couch will receive a tax increase which is far larger than the tax cut for the sheep. A couch assessment will be carried out by a private assessment company next month, and the home owner will have to pay a charge for this assessment. Or, if we wish to donate our extra couch (or our only couch, if we chose to claim we have just one) to the city government for them to sell at what is virtually a giant yard sale, then we don’t have to pay the assessment charge or the tax increase.

What’s next?

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line or topic suggestions in the Comment section of any story.